Tuesday, September 21, 2010

From Brighton to Hopetown

I recently underwent a move from the Brighton congregation to a nearby (ish) hall called Hopetown. This move was brought about because Tom and Michelle Sanches (who had kindly allowed me to stay with them since I first arrived in Guyana) were going to the annual meeting in New York, followed by vacation.

At the same time, a place to stay opened up with Micaiah Young who was living in Hopetown. Fortunately, I had met Micaiah a few times before, and we even wound up on the same flight into Guyana (as did one of the substitute circuit overseers named Gary something).

So I went from this hall....

to this hall....

Oh yeah, baby.

Okay, that's actually all I have for now. Sorry it was so short, but I'll add some more later (such as my experience of learning to climb a coconut tree!) Now, I know you don't like it when I only put in a few pictures, so I'll add one more:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Expedition to Orealla and Siparuta!

To summarize: Me and Tom Sanches spent a week in the interior of Guyana on an expedition to work a village that had never been preached to before. This village is named Siparuta. The strange thing is, there's a congregation (in Orealla- it's a small town down the Corentyne river, on the Guyana/Suriname border) that had been assigned this village to preach, but because it's so far away they can never get to it.

So me and Tom made arrangements to take a ferry down to Orealla, and meet with a local brother who would join us/guide us to Siparuta. Now the only problem is: trucks cannot get into this village, because the path there looks like this....

So the only option was walking. This left the three of us (Tom Sanches, me, and the local brother Martin Miguel) carrying two and a half boxes worth of literature during a three-hour hike through the jungle and swamps.

Now I'm going to back up a bit here. The following story proved to me the extent of Jehovah's support on this trip.

Our primary objective was to find the teachers in the village of Siparuta (population: 300-400). The purpose for this was so that we could leave literature for use in the schools, and so the teachers could possibly distribute literature to anybody we couldn't reach.

Fast-forward to the ferry taking us to Orealla (remember, the bigger town nearby). There's no space on the floor because the boat was hauling supplies to Orealla, so everybody had to string up hammocks to sit/sleep in....

Now Tom and I hadn't expected this, so we were sitting on the railing of the boat, when a woman nearby points to an empty hammock and offers to let us use it. She says that she had brought her daughter over, and was now going back to Orealla alone. Tom (being the friendly talker he is) asks where the woman lives in Orealla. She says "Oh, I don't live in Orealla. I live in Siparuta."

Tom says "Really? What do you do there?"

"I'm a school teacher."

We were thrilled by this. Tom rapidly explains we plan to come in and try to give literature to some people, and she sounds very interested in the books/magazines/etc. He gets her name (Ruth Christmas) and makes arrangements to visit her when we get to Siparuta.

The boat arrives in Orealla, we meet Martin Miguel (the local), spend the night in a house behind the Kingdom Hall, and the next morning we gathered literature and began our hike into Siparuta.

We arrive, 3 hours later, exhausted and covered in sweat. Tom's trying to figure out where to find Ruth Christmas when Martin says "My wife is related to her. I know where she lives!" When she sees us, she immediately brings cold water and lets us sit on her porch for a while (a while = an hour). During that time, Tom is showing her the books and things he wants to leave with her, when she stops him and says "Wait here a minute." She later returns with three plates full of food! (which contributed to the one hour break)

I couldn't believe how much better we felt after all that! At this point, Tom asks if she knows where the other teachers live, and she says "I don't, but my daughter knows all the teachers in this village! She'll take you to them!" So the three of us depart for preaching, being led through town by an eight-year old girl :)

Eventually, me and Martin split off and started house-to-house as Tom continued to visit the teachers. Finally, the two of us finished the main part of the village, and Martin went off to visit some others he knew already (he actually works in a farm near the town, so he'd gotten a few RVs and studies in the village) and I found Tom right as he talked to the last teacher. We still had some literature, so we asked the girl if she could take us to some of the back roads and houses further away. She was happy to do it! How many eight-year-olds would willingly guide two people around as they talked to every person they saw?

After a while, thanks to this kid's guidance, we covered THE WHOLE VILLAGE!! Every house was preached to! And it was done in ONE DAY! We were so happy about it!

When we arrived back at Ruth's house and met with Martin again, we began discussing the hike back. We weren't too happy about it, because it was 6 PM at this point and a storm was beginning directly overhead. In addition, it gets dark here at 6:30, and we didn't want to spend a few hours in a dark jungle. At this point, Ruth hears us and says "My husband has a boat! Ask him if he can take you to Orealla."

We asked him, and asked how much it would cost if he did  it, and he says "I can take you, and no charge. Just buy me some gas so I can get you there."

So here's what happened: We were fed, given water, guided through the village, and taken back on a boat, and why? Because of talking to one person on the ferry to Orealla. No way that happens without Jehovah's help.

And now, a few totals:

Hours spent preaching: 7 (11 AM-6 PM)
People reached: Over 300
Books placed: 111
Brochures: 109
Magazines: 225
Cost (in U.S. money): $32

The next day, we got to attend the Orealla meeting (Sunday) and Tom did the public talk, and they had me reading the Watchtower. This is due to the congregation having one ministerial servant, who was naturally conducting the Watchtower study.

Brother Lennox, the ministerial servant.

Outside the Orealla Kingdom Hall (behind is the house we stayed in during our visit).

Inside the Orealla Kingdom Hall!

Corentyne river! Burr Oak has nothin' on this!

Well, we had many other experiences on this trip which sadly I just don't have time or space to tell them all (plus, I've gotta have SOMETHING new to tell you all when I get back).

But if anyone wants the name of a good place to work where the need is greater, I've found the perfect place for you!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Meetings/Service In Guyana

First off, I want to tell everyone I just got back from a preaching expedition into the interior of Guyana, and I can't wait to tell you about it, but it'll take a little while to weed through all the pictures I took, so hopefully in a little while I'll have some stories of the trip for you (with pictures!)

But for now, I wanted to tell you about field service through the mainland of Guyana (and a few other things, such as pics of my congregation).

In the Brighton congregation that I'm currently in, the majority of our territory is ONE ROAD, but it's a 30-mile stretch of it. This stretch covers thirty-two villages. The funny thing is, each of these villages are designated by both a name and a number, but people seem to pick one or the other to use. For instance, I'm now living in Village 40, but then we drive through Eversham, and then into Village 38, then 37, then Tarlogie.

There is one area in our territory where there's a large side road that keeps branching off into smaller roads (Black Bush). That's their equivalent of a rural territory.

The approach to field service is very different here. First off, you can never knock on the door because all the houses have a gate out front. So you approach the gate and shout "Inside!" If there's someone there (usually there is) they'll shout back "Cwome!" (meaning: Come In) You are then allowed to open up their gate and enter. Also, they're very hospitable. It is very common to spend the entire morning doing house to house woek and only get to three or four homes. One thing that struck me though: Jehovah's Witnesses are among the most highly respected people here. We've had people tell us "I told the preacher at my church I've been studying the Bible with Jehovah's Witnesses..... and he said 'Good! You should keep that up! You can learn a lot from them.'" Now, you'd think that with that kind of response that preaching here is a walk in the park. But strangely, practically the entire country has the attitude "You should never change religions."
I was actually told by a Hindu woman a few days ago "If I became of one Jehovah's Witnesses, I would be sinning. If you became a Hindu, you would be sinning. You must always stick to the religion you're born in."

So to summarize field service here: It's incredibly easy to place magazines, incredibly easy to give them a Bible teach book, even easier to have a conversation about the Bible.... but trying to get them to actually DO something about what they're learning, THAT'S where it gets tricky.

What pretty much all of the territory looks like (Village 63, the edge of our territory)

Part of Black Bush.....

Going to a Bible Study with Chris Hayes (the Brighton COBE) deep in Black Bush.

In the Brighton congregation, we have about 55 publishers, and our average meeting attendance is 85-90. Unfortunately, there are only three elders taking care of everything (there's actually four, but one has such bad health he can barely make it to the meetings).

Our hall has no parking lot. That's because practically no Guyanese have cars. Everyone gets around by taking buses that are all over the place (a better name for them would be "minivans carrying twenty people")

Also, the for each meeting, everyone has to remember to bring flashlights due to very frequent power outages.

The stage! In Brighton!

The auditorium! In Brighton!

From the back of the hall, facing forward.

Hope this was informative for you, and I'm really looking forward to showing you some pictures and telling some stories about the recent expedition we went on! 'Till then, bye!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Few Random People


On a different note, I wanted to introduce you to a few of the people I've met so far. First up:

From left: Lara Alston, Sandra Panchem, and Michelle Sanches. The kid on the very edge of the shot is Sandra's son Daniel.

Sandra Panchem actually was interviewed at the District Convention. She has four kids she's raising and she's also a regular pioneer, but a few months ago her husband had a stroke and is unable to work. So in addition to everything she's already doing, she had to get a job too. And yet, she still loves service and goes out as much as she can. And in a few days, she'll be going to Pioneer School for the first time!

From left: Michael Alston, Alton Primus (good name for a Transformer), and Tom Sanches.

And a brief shot of inside Tom and Michelle's house.....

And some people I met at the convention:

On the left is Joshua (something. They aren't too big on last names here). He's 21 and is serving as a special pioneer and is the only Ministerial Servant in a secluded congregation in the southern part of Guyana (Kwakwani is the congregation. Just in case you were wondering.) The guy on the right is his cousin Jonathan (yes, they ARE cousins. Despite appearances.)

On the left is Aaron Bahksh (I have NO idea what he's so grumpy about), and on the left is my future roommate Micaiah Young (Tom and Michelle are going to the annual meeting soon, so at that point I'm moving over to Hopetown congregation.)

Okay, that's all for now. If you have anything that you desperately want pictures of, go ahead and say so. Although I'm not guaranteeing anything.